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By Andrea Peyser
December 21, 2015
I support abortion rights. I think Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina should hang her head in shame for promoting the fiction that Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts to the highest bidders.
But two cases of reproductive slavery now playing out make me sick.
The rich can buy practically anything — even renting the wombs of poor women, treating these gals like paid breeders with no rights over their own bodies. The human incubators risk their health to create designer kids for the infertile, the gay or women too old, busy or vain to bear children the messy, painful and figure-killing old-fashioned way.
The craze for making kids à la Frankenstein’s baby has reached a low point. Two women from California, paid to produce children as surrogate mothers — or gestational carriers, as they’re callously called — are each pregnant with triplets commissioned by, in one case, a couple, and in the other, a man. Both are more than 17 weeks pregnant.
As The Post’s Carl Campanile reported, the handmaidens have been ordered by their overlords and lady to abort at least one fetus growing in each of their wombs.
“They are human beings,’’ said Melissa Cook, 47, about the babies developing inside her. “I bonded with these kids. This is just not right.’’
Cook entered into a contract with a Georgia man who agreed to pay her $33,000 for the first child conceived through in-vitro fertilization using his sperm and a 20-year-old woman’s eggs, and $6,000 more for each additional spawn. That’s not a lot of money for nine months’ worth of service, carrying fetuses not biologically her own.
Three embryos were implanted in Cook. And all three have developed normally so far in the woman, who has split from her husband. Cook has four children of her own, including triplets, and gave birth to a child as a surrogate.
The would-be father freaked out.
Cook has never met the man. But she said his lawyer sent her a series of increasingly threatening letters, vowing to ruin her financially if she refused to undergo a “selective reduction’’ (abortion). The contract Cook signed gives the man the right to demand she discard a fetus, he contends.
So why didn’t a guy so eager to raise a kid or two — but no more — consider adopting? Clearly, he wants children who bear his DNA.
That’s no excuse for this.
Brittneyrose Torres, 26, also from California, told Campanile that she entered into a contract with a man and a woman who used their own sperm and eggs to create embryos with which to impregnate her. She was to be paid $25,000 for one baby and $5,000 for an additional child.
But, after Torres was implanted with two embryos, one of them split. She is carrying a pair of male twins and a girl, who so far appear healthy, she said.
The girl must die, her uterus-renters commanded.
Torres said that even if the contract she signed requires her to selectively reduce, as the biological parents claim, she can’t go through with it, physically or emotionally.
“I believe it will be killing this baby,” she said.
What disgraceful messes.
“No judge is going to require these women to go into an operating room to get an abortion,’’ said Sanford Benardo, president of Northeast Assisted Fertility Group, which matches about 30 surrogates with prospective parents each year. Benardo’s company is not involved in either case. But he slammed the fertility clinic that implanted three embryos, rather than two, in Cook. He said surrogate candidates should be screened carefully to weed out those who oppose abortion. Neither woman, he said, would be allowed to adopt the babies.
“Worst-case scenario, if they refuse to terminate, social services will take over and put the children in foster care,’’ Benardo said.
The women reached out to the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, a nonprofit anti-surrogacy organization, and were connected with lawyers.
“The children are the biggest losers in all of this,’’ the center’s president, Jennifer Lahl, told me. “They could be terminated or adopted out and probably be separated from their siblings.’’
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of the New York Legislature are considering lifting a 22-year-old ban on commercial surrogacy in the state — a top legislative priority of the gay-rights group Empire State Pride Agenda. This should not happen.
Still, nothing will stop people from hiring women from states in which surrogacy is permitted by law, such as California.
The practice must be banned everywhere.
I believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion. But pressuring them to undergo the procedures is not freedom of choice. It’s ugly, intimate coercion.